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Hackney and Hodder set for Clissold court battle

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The ongoing legal dispute surrounding the £30 million Clissold Leisure Centre in north London is heading to the High Court.

Earlier this month, the centre's owner Hackney Borough Council and architect Hodder Associates agreed an undisclosed settlement figure in respect of the lengthy delays and cost overruns.

However, it appears the massive row surrounding the faults, which have forced the building to remain shut, is unresolved and the High Court will now sit on 5 November to set a timetable for the case.

The announcement dashes hopes that further mediation could lead to the remaining disputes being brought to an early close (AJ 7.10.04).

And as the legal teams prepare to battle it out in the courts, the swimming pool, which was forced to shut its doors last autumn, will stay closed.

Dogged by difficulties since it opened in March 2002, exact details of the building's defects have always been sketchy, although it was believed many of the faults related to the ventilation systems.

A report by engineer Arup, commissioned by the council to investigate the problems, is also set to remain confidential on the instructions of Hackney's barristers.

A similar independent investigation for Hodder Associates by Mark Whitby of engineer Whitbybird has been kept under wraps while legal proceedings continue.

Even so, an OJEU (formerly OJEC) notice notifying contractors of the repair works reveals a wide range of things that need attention including the pool areas, shower and changing-room facilities, sports hall, plant room, squash courts and dance studio, as well as the health and fitness suite of the leisure centre facility.

Meanwhile, Hackney's mayor Jules Pipe has stayed tight-lipped about the financial settlement, which has been agreed between the parties.

'As a result of mediation, a settlement has been reached by the parties on the claim relating to cost increases and time overruns, ' he said.

'The terms of the mediation require no disclosure of detail. However, the district auditor has been kept fully informed.' 'The terms of settlement include a payment of a significant sum to Hackney council without any admissions as to liability.

'Hackney council has notified potential contractors of its intention to carry out repair works to the building through the issuing of a prior identification notice, ' Pipe added.

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